So you’ve got a horse–or access to one–and you’d like to learn how to ride. Considering the unpredictable nature of horses, it’s not wise to just hop on and hope for the best. Horse riding lessons, under the supervision of an instructor, are highly recommended, as you’ll learn a lot about the horse, its movement and become well accustomed to this wonderful pastime.
Before your first lesson, make sure you have all the necessary tack for riding and for comfort. Without the proper apparel, your lesson could end quickly, and painfully.
First and foremost: wear a helmet, always. As many experts say, you cannot predict when a horse may stumble or fall, and you will need to protect your head in a split-second. From first-time riders to seasoned equestrians, everybody should wear a helmet, so you should too. Your instructor will insist on it, so have one ready for your first lesson. (If your hair is longer than the helmet, tie it back and braid or net it–you’ll be able to see better.
The shirt you wear will depend on the weather, but you should certainly consider long sleeves to cover your arms. Keep it tucked in, with no ends flapping, as that could startle the horse. If you plan on show riding, you should get used to wearing a riding jacket over your shirt. So-called “performance fabrics” have developed greatly in the 21st century, so you should be able to find undergarments as well as overgarments that will allow your body to breathe under the layers.
To cover your hands, wear a pair of riding gloves. These will provide the grip you need to grip the reins, with flexibility to bend your fingers as needed. (They’ll also keep your hands warm in cold weather.)
Breeches make great riding pants. Jeans are not recommended; while they are rugged enough to protect your legs, they will also irritate your skin and cause rubs on your inner legs.
Don’t forget your paddock boots and half chaps or tall boots! Tall riding boots are designed to secure your legs against the saddle and fit comfortably in stirrups. If you’re not going to be showing, paddock boots and half chaps will be more comfortable. Work boots or hiking boots are not recommended, and definitely don’t wear sneakers. Depending on the weather, wear socks that will provide ventilation or heat; specially made boot socks often a rider's first choice.
Now that you’re all decked out, there’s just one more thing: have fun.